Amongst the best-known theodolite determinations of height are those made at Bossekop in Norway by the French Expedition of 1838-1839 (16) and the Norwegian Expedition of 1882-1883, and those made in the latter year by the Swedes at Cape Thorsden and the Danes at Godthaab.
The west coast, up to nearly 74° N., is divided into two inspectorates, the southern extending to 67° 40' N., the northern comprising the rest of the country; the respective seats of government being at Godthaab and Godhavn.
If the Godthaab observations can be trusted, auroral discharges must often occur within a few miles of the earth's surface in Arctic regions.
This applies to Hammerfest, Jakobshavn, Godthaab and the most northern division of Scandinavia.
The settlements were called respectively Oster Bygd (or eastern settlement) and Vester (western) Bygd, both being now known to be on the south and west coast (in the districts of Julianehaab and Godthaab respectively), though for long the view was persistently held that the first was on the east coast, and numerous expeditions have been sent in search of these " lost colonies " and their imaginary survivors.
Other settlers followed and in a few years two colonies had been formed, one called Osterbygd in the present district of Julianehaab comprising later about 190 farms, and another called Vesterbygd farther north on the west coast in the present district of Godthaab, comprising later about 90 farms. Numerous ruins in the various fjords of these two districts indicate now where these colonies were.
At Godthaab in 1882-1883 the auroral anomaly was, according to Paulsen, 15.5° E., the magnetic meridian lying 57.6° W.
One of the best known from earlier days is the great Godthaab Fjord (or Baals Revier) north of 64° N.
On land reindeer were formerly hunted, to their practical extinction in the south, but in the districts of Godthaab, Sukkertoppen and Holstensborg there are still many reindeer.
It was visited by whalers, chiefly Dutch, but nothing in the form of permanent European settlements was established until the year 1721, when the first missionary, the Norwegian clergyman Hans Egede, landed, and established a settlement near Godthaab.